Where are you from? That's the question Pikes Peak Library officials floated when they launched De dnde eres?: Cultural Origins of the Latino/Hispanic Experience in Southern Colorado nearly two years ago.
"It started when we realized our archives didn't represent everyone in our community," says Rosemary Graham, special collections librarian and archivist.
Since the project's inception in November 2003, the district has gathered an array of archival materials, including manuscripts, photos and oral histories from area Latinos. To date, 35 documentary-style videos have been recorded, 90-minute interviews with a slew of notable community members like Fire Chief Manuel Navarro, UCCS director of campus activities Carmen Abeyta, breast cancer awareness advocate Ada Torres and Senator Ken Salazar.
Graham and special collections manager Tim Blevins say they've been most surprised at the interviewees' responses regarding how they identify themselves. The breadth of their answers shatters the common monolithic conception held by so many.
"I like the term Chicana because that term to me indicates a reclaiming of one's history, an understanding, and acknowledgement of the history -- good, romanticized, bad, challenging." LeAnn Baca Bartlett, a member of the exhibits advisory committee, said.
The documenters have heard everything from Latino, Hispanic, American, Spanish-American, Puerto Rican, Azteca, puro Mexicano, even orgullo, Spanish for pride.
"One thing we've learned is there is a lot of diversity [within the local Latino community]," says Blevins.
The district invites all members of the Pikes Peak community to the public unveiling of the initiative's accompanying exhibit this week. Blevins emphasizes the relevance of the night's presenters, Jake Garcia on "The Influences of Spaniards in Southern Colorado," anthropology professor Glenda Carne on "The Church as a Record of Community" and Jos J. Barrera, Ph.D., on "El Idioma de la Sangre / The Language of Blood."
All of the materials collected through the initiative will remain part of the library district's permanent archives for the public and researchers to review.
-- Vanessa Martinez
De dnde eres?
Carnegie Reading Room at Penrose Library, 20 N. Cascade Ave.
Unveiling on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 7:30 p.m.
Free; call 531-6333 ext. 2256
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